Secretary of Socioeconomic Planning
National Conference on Natural Capital Accounting (NCA)
March 30, 2017; 8:00 am
Marco Polo, Ortigas Center, Pasig City

World Bank Philippine Country Director Mara Warwick; National Statistician Lisa Grace Bersales; Distinguished resource speakers and presenters, development partners, colleagues from the government, participants from the civil society, the academe, and private sector, members of the media, ladies and gentlemen, good morning!

The Philippines has continued to perform well economically, garnering a remarkable growth rate of 6.8 percent in 2016, which is one of the fastest in Asia, faster than that of China’s 6.7 percent and Vietnam’s 6.2 percent last year.  We are optimistic that this upward trajectory will be maintained through people-centered and people-powered policies, stable macroeconomic fundamentals, and strong partnerships with other countries. It is but fitting that the Philippines is dubbed as “Asia’s Rising Tiger.”

This growth would not have been possible if not for the contribution of our natural resources; with their linkage to production, consumption, and well-being. As one of only 18 megadiverse countries in the world, the Philippines’ marine and terrestrial biodiversity has provided us with all our needs; and their uniqueness has made the country one of the top destinations for ecotourism and research on genetic resources.

However, it is also because we have been so blessed with natural resources that we tend to take for granted that they are finite. For decades, we have been relentlessly taxing our environment in response to increasing demands from development and economic activities, population expansion, and external shocks. More often than not, this exploitation leads to misuse and overuse of resources, threatening to exhaust the beauty and bounty given to our country.

While numerous laws and regulations have been passed to protect, conserve, and sustain our natural resources, enforcement has been weak and inadequate. It is for these reasons that we continuously support natural capital accounting (NCA): to help Filipinos understand the true economic value of these resources, change the way we regard them, and ultimately improve their management and utilization.

As you will see from the presentations later today, NCA initiatives in the Philippines have started since the 1990s. We jump off from past initiatives with Wealth Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services or WAVES, a global partnership led by the World Bank, which we took part in since 2010.

Results of policy analyses and recommendations from WAVES, particularly related to Laguna Lake and Southern Palawan including mangroves and minerals, will help us in the government to formulate appropriate strategies and programs that need to be prioritized to sustain long-term development.

Today, we earmark another page in history as we showcase outputs on natural capital accounting through this two-day conference with the theme, Accounting Nature: Capitalizing Partnerships for the Future.

I encourage everyone, especially the planners, policy makers, scientists, practitioners, and advocates to participate in the exchange of information and experiences on various related efforts both local and international. I hope that by the end of this event, everyone has gained a more holistic appreciation of the country’s economic performance through NCA, beyond traditional indicators like the Gross Domestic Product. Through NCA’s institutionalization in the 2017-2022 Philippine Development Plan and Ambisyon Natin 2040, we express our earnest efforts in achieving sustainable development.

May this conference be the start of continued and meaningful partnerships to further advance NCA both inside and outside of the Philippines. Let us instill in our minds and actions that caring for the environment and natural resources is everyone’s responsibility – to leave a cleaner and healthier planet for future generations.

I welcome you all to the National Conference on Natural Capital Accounting in the Philippines and wish you fruitful discussions ahead.

Thank you and good morning once again!